Barn Tour: After white-hot Del Mar, Pederson talks top talent

Barn Tour: After white-hot Del Mar, Pederson talks top talent
Photo: Benoit Photo

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Dean Pederson had quite a summer at Del Mar. With a 10-horse stable to open the meet that soon was reduced by three, the veteran trainer managed to saddle 12 starters at the stand. He connected with eight.

For perspective on Pederson's 67 percent win rate, consider that over the previous four summers at Del Mar, the stable was 3-for-25 combined.

Pederson, 60, spent more than 15 years based in Northern California before moving to the Southern California circuit full time in 2011. He noted that during his time up north, he had two full seasons when he won at a more than 30 percent clip. But to have a stretch like this season at Del Mar, Pederson acknowledged to Horse Racing Nation on Wednesday, that was something special.


“Not to diminish the racing up there, but this is a whole different ballgame,” Pederson said. Pederson began training in 1985, and two of his best seasons came last decade while still based at Golden Gate Fields. In 2007, he set a career-high in earnings with $874,100. Two years later, he won a career-high 50 races. After the strong Del Mar stand, Pederson’s high in seasonal earnings seems likely to be eclipsed this season. Entering Thursday, Pederson had banked $722,250 for the year while winning with 13 of 37 starters, a 35 percent strike rate. “We’ve always been fairly consistent,” Pederson said. “We’ve had our ups and downs, especially down here. It’s just a tougher game. You have to have the right stock.” When it comes to the "right stock," Pederson pointed out, “I train for a bunch of breeders.” The most notable of those is Harris Farms, which often provides the bulk of Pederson’s stable. As a result, each season's crop brings its own set of challenges. “Some years you’ll have a few good ones. Other years you’ll have more bad ones than you want,” he noted. Pederson said a key to winning is to get those horses that don’t fit on the Southern California circuit "moved on." “You try not to keep too many,” said Peterson, who typically has 12 to 15 horses in the shedrow. “Let’s face it, 90 percent of it starts with the horse,” he continued. “Our job is to evaluate the horses. You’d love to walk up and down the shedrow and see stakes horse, stakes horse, stakes horse. But there’s a reason they write races at different levels. It’s my job to put them in the right spots.” Finding the right spots was certainly the case for Pederson at Del Mar. He shared what might be next for four of his recent winners as the Southern California racing scene shifts to Los Alamitos and then Santa Anita. Fashionably Fast. Having banked $804,143 in four-plus seasons of racing, the 7-year-old California-bred gelding is the highest-earning horse trained by Pederson. On Aug. 27 at Del Mar, after being runner-up in the Thor’s Echo Stakes at Santa Anita and Bertrando Stakes at Los Alamitos, Fashionably Fast was entered in a salty second-level allowance for open company. He promptly scored as the second-longest shot on the board at 15-1. Pederson touched on what Fashionably Fast has meant to his career over the past five years. “Basically he kept the roof over our head,” Pederson said. “Back when he was a young horse, he was a ridgling and he used to always get hot. He just wasn’t very pleasant, he had a bad attitude about things. But once we went in and removed the testicle and gelded him, over a period of time he figured it out. Now I always feel like anytime I walk him over there, no matter how he runs, it’s going to be a good day.” Fashionably Fast returned to the work tab on Sunday at Del Mar with an easy half-furlong move. Peterson said next up for the gelding will be a trip north to Fresno where he will seek a “three-peat” in the $75,000 Harris Farms Stakes going six furlongs on dirt. Fashionably Fast, who sports a record of 32: 10-8-7, was bred and is co-owned by Harris Farms. Carmelita’s Man. With $411,198 in the bank, the 5-year-old California-bred gelding is the third highest-earning horse Pederson has trained. Carmelita’s Man is in the midst of a three-race win streak. By Mucho Macho Man, Carmelita’s Man won the Crystal Water Stakes at Santa Anita in May and came back to win the Aug. 6 California Dreamin’ Stakes at Del Mar. Then earlier this month at Del Mar, he beat open company by a nose in a first-level allowance.  “He ran a gut-wrenching race,” Peterson said of the gelding’s allowance win. “I mean, he eked out that win. It just goes to show that when things are going good, you win photos.” Carmelita’s Man is slated return to work on Sunday. Next up for Carmelita’s Man will likely be a second-level allowance for open company in early October at Santa Anita, Pederson said. “That horse, he’s fit enough to run from here to the Bay Area and back right now,” Pederson added. “So I thought as hard as he ran, we’d give him a little breather and then work on Sunday. He’s always been very consistent … and he’s doing really well right now. His weight looks good, his coat looks good. He’s enjoying what he’s doing." Carmelita’s Man, who brought just $23,000 as a yearling at auction, is owned by Lawrence and Ann Jett. He sports a record of 7-5-1 in 20 starts. Thorne House. Ask about this 3-year-old California-bred by Clubhouse Ride and Pederson’s mood instantly brightens. Those things happen when a gelding breaks his maiden in his second start at Del Mar and comes right back to beat state-bred allowance company while completing 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt in a solid 1:15.36. “He’s the upstart. He’s the exciting one of the bunch,” Peterson said. “He’s just very talented, very fast and very smart. We’ve got a lot of options.” In California, horses bred or sired in the state are eligible to win the same allowance conditions on both dirt and turf. As a result, Pederson said a first-level allowance for state-breds on grass likely would be next for Thorne House. “With his pedigree, he shouldn’t have any problem with the turf course,” Pederson said. “Then at some point we’ll see if he can go two turns. He’s just a very exciting type.” Sensible Move. Although it took six starts, the 4-year-old daughter of Summer Front earned her diploma on Aug. 26 at Del Mar when beating California-breds in a maiden special weight going one mile on turf. Last year, Sensible Move raced once in the spring and then spent the next 11 months on the sidelines before returning at Santa Anita earlier this year. She had rising speed figures before finally breaking through at Del Mar. “She had a shin that was bugging her, so we sent her home to get that right,” Pederson said. “They did a great job on the farm and, you know, she’s one of those fillies that every time she has run, she’s shown improvement.” As Sensible Move’s first start off the bench came in a $50,000 maiden claimer, Pederson said he’ll likely shop for a starter allowance race for the filly. “We got a chance to let her develop,” he added. “She’s one of those types of fillies that when it’s all said and done, hopefully she has a nice little bankroll next to her name.”

Sensible Move is a homebred for Harris Farms.

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